August 30, 2015

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Canes, Marlins, FIU, LLWS, tennis, horses, Scully; plus latest 'Weighing The Fish,' Fins fantasy ranks, escaping Cone of Doom & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 31. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with onset of college football. 2) Backup Kirk Cousins reportedly will start for Redskins in Sept. 13 season opener vs. Dolphins. That doesn't help Miami. Such is the state of Robert Griffin III. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Twitter study finds Heat dominating local teams on social media, Gronkowskis = Kardashians, Serena wins pole position & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1afiuronturnerFIU football: Turner's tall task: I probably don't write about FIU enough but for me it's a chicken-or-egg thing; unless you're a Kardashian, you have to earn the attention you get. Anyway, in my latest column I write why FIU's Ron Turner (pictured) has the toughest coaching job in South Florida. Click on Attitude Adjustment, Culture Makeover to read.

1aa1afinsat50Herald's 'Fins at 50' special section: ICYMI, the Miami Herald's massive "Fins at 50"

coverage, commemorating
the Dolphins' upcoming 50th season, arrived in the Old Classic print version
yesterday and remains available online. Click FINS AT 50 to access entire project. My contributions: COACHING LEGEND, my main column on Don Shula. 50 GREATEST, my list of the 50 top figures (not just players!) in franchise history. ALL-TIME TEAM, my picks for that honor. And VIDEO INTERVIEWS, my conversations with Shula, Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas. I also have an added Shula-by-the-numbers column not in the original package; click TOP 10 NUMBERS to read.

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Reminding you our Dolphins postgame DSM polls will be back in the blog again this year, but starting with the regular season on Sept. 13.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated on Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tannehill, starting D sharp again as Fins win preseason home debut: Miami is only 1-2 in exhibitions after Saturday's 13-9 win over Atlanta (game blog and postgame thoughts below), but the starting units look season-ready entering this coming Thursday's preseason finale vs. Tampa Bay. Based on August, Tannehill may be fast-climbing fantasy draft boards. (But the whisper remains: Can we trust August?)

2. HURRICANES: College football arrives! UM loses top RB with opener less than a week away: Coach Al Golden's Hurricanes, who open the season this coming Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman, suffered a big blow with the news that expected starting running back Gus Edwards would miss the season with a foot injury. It's one more reason to doubt the Canes. If doubt is fuel, UM has a full tank in '15.

3. MARLINS: Stanton return from injury now on horizon: Fish have lost nine of past 12 to continue The Lost Season, but at least slugger Giancarlo Stanton is close. Marlins begin an extended homestand on Friday and Stanton figures to return sometime during it. Meantime, the club gives indications it might move the fences in next year. Giving Stanton shorter fences is like giving Bill Gates a raise.

4. FIU: Panthers open football season on road in three days: FIU begins its 14th season of football and third under coach Ron Turner on Thursday at UCF. Turner seems to be making progress in turning around the Panthers program. The question now is whether hair-trigger FIU athletic director Pete Garcia will give him time to finish the job.

5. LITTLE LEAGUE: Japan beats U.S. for world title: The U.S. champion (Pennsylvania) squandered a 10-2 lead and lost to Japan on Sunday in the International final of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. By the way, a boy named Alex Edmondson pitched two no-hitters during the LLWS but you probably didn’t hear about it because, unfortunately for him, his name wasn’t Mo’Ne Davis.

6. TENNIS: U.S. Open starts today with all eyes on Serena: For the first time ever the women’s final has sold out before the men’s as fans anticipate Serena Williams completing the sport’s first calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Now Serena's path is even easier with the withdrawal of Maria Sharapova. It almost isn't unfair. They should make Serena use a badminton racket.

7. HORSES: American Pharoah shocking loser at Travers: Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a 1-5 favorite, lost to longshot Keen Ice at the historic Travers at Saratoga on Saturday. (Note to most of America: Yes, there are horse races other than the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont). 

8. VIN SCULLY: Dodgers broadcaster says he isn't done yet: Scully, who'll be 88 in November, said he would return next season for a 67th and final year broadcasting the Dodgers games. Put it this way: When last somebody else called Dodgers games, the president was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

9. LEBRON JAMES: Ex-Heater sells Coconut Grove home: LeBron sold his 12,178-square-foot Coconut Grove waterfront mansion (including a theater and wine cellar) for $13.4 million. The question now: Do I redecorate?

10. DARRYL DAWKINS: Beloved ex-NBA stars dies: R.I.P. to the dunk specialist they called "Chocolate Thunder," who died at 58. The good news? I won big. As soon as I heard the news, I immediately invested in lame media references to "dunking in heaven."

Missing the HB10 cut: Tropical storm Erika turned out to be no threat to South Florida, despite local meteorologists' best efforts to scare us into panic mode. ..... Refurbished Dolphins stadium debuts. It looks good. If only it weren't 11,000 seats smaller. ..... Lawyers for NFL and Tom Brady are due back Monday for latest round of arguments. If this “Deflategate” morass were any more ridiculous, they’d move it from federal court to Vaudeville. ..... Marlins honor Dontrelle Willis but he's a no-show. Club president David Samson calls himself "flummoxed," becoming first sports figure since 1959 to use word "flummoxed." ..... Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian profanely addresses boosters and fans while drunk. ..... Cris Carter apologizes for telling players at NFL Rookie Symposium they should have a “fall guy” to help them avoid trouble. An alternate piece of advice he might have been: Stay out of trouble so you don’t need a “fall guy.” ..... Now-retired former Dolphins bullying victim Jonathan Martin revealed he has contemplated suicide, seriously impinging my ability to make fun of him.

DOLPHINS 13, ATLANTA 9 (FAUX-GAME 3): THIS ONE COUNTED! (OK, NOT REALLY. BUT SORT OF): FINAL: Encouragingly, this was the third game in a row Miami's offensive and defensive starters outplayed the other team and performed very well. These units look season-ready. This time a win resulted for a 1-2 exhibition record, but it's the play of the main units that should have Dolfans nearly giddy. Tannehill tonight was 15-for-19 for 145 yards and a TD, Jarvis Landry looked good, and the defense was terrific, including six sacks. All of ATL's points came off Miami miscues. More importantly, coach Joe Philbin indicated after the game he did not think center Mike Pouncey's knee injury was a concern. In terms of roster spots last tonight, rookie kicker Andrew Franks may have drawn even with Caleb Sturgis. And I'd no longer be surprised if Josh Freeman edged Matt Moore for the backup QB role. ..... Fourth Quarter: MIA fumble recovery with 1:21 left at own 18 preserves win. ... Four-point late lead on rookie Franks' 51-yard FG. ... MIA recovers fumble with 4:13 left. ... More rain; not many fans still at Joe's Place. ... Third-string QB Josh Freeman looking pretty good, at wheel for 10-9 lead finished by 32Y FG by rookie Andrew Franks with 7 minutes to play. Longshot Franks stays in the competition with incumbent Caleb Sturgis for the PK job. ... ATL up 9-7. All Falcons points have followed Dolphins miscues. ... Matt Moore intercepted and 43Y return have Falcons poised to take lead. ..... Third Quarter: Goalline stand by backup defense preserves lead in scoreless third. ... Looks like second half will be reserves. Once again, for third game preseason game in a row, starters performed wel. ..... Half: Modest 7-6 lead but Dolphins very impressive overall. Tannehill 15-19 for 145 yards and a TD before giving way to Moore, Jarvis Landry 6 catches for 84 yards, and defense keeping Falcons punter busy. ATL's only points set up by a muffed Miami punt snap and a turnover. ..... Second quarter: ATL within 7-6 on 50Y field goal after late turnover. ... Matt Moore replaces Tannehill late in half. ... Center Mike Pouncey out with knee injury but does not seem serious. Questionable return but doubt he does as a precaution. ... MIA 7-0 on Rishard Matthews short TD pass from Tannehill. ..... First Quarter: Jarvis Landry 45-yard catch and run wakes up crowd. ... Late 1Q but Miami already subbing on defense, several starters already out.  ... Falcs parlay field position into 43-yard FG and 3-0 lead, but Fins defense looking good. ... Rain starts. Bad snap leads to muffed Dolphins pun after a couple of dropped passes. ... Quick ATL punt. DT Earl Mitchell playing like, "Suh, who?" ... Miami punt to open game. ... Pregame: Sparse crowd. Stadium improvements look good but fans aren't dumb. It's still a glorified practice game ... Hullo? Is this mic on? We'll be live-blogging the game here tonight and then have a postgame mini-column. ..... Original post: Atlanta Falcons here tonight in Miami's third exhibition game and, yes, it matters a little bit. A few reasons why and 1aa1abigdealother thoughts entering tonight: 1) Home debut, like-new stadium: It's the 2015 home debut of a Dolphins team that has a buzz about it, and in a refurbished stadium that also will look and feel new. A fall-flat performance would be a letdown. Especially because... 2) Playing to win: After two earlier losses in which the starters played well, but briefly, Miami will actually play to win for the first time, in a "dress rehearsal" game that figures to see the starters play much more. Atlanta has been 4-12 and 6-10 the past two seasons, so, yes, a loss tonight to go 0-3 would hurt in a way the past two did not. 3) Can't play scared: They'll balance the want to win with staying healthy. Since Ryan Tannehill and most other starters likely won't even play in next week's preseason finale, a key injury tonight is the worst fear. However! Reject the scared notion that Tannehill shouldn't play at all because of that 1aa1ahelmet testfear. He needs the added work behind his line, with his mostly new receivers, and against a live defense. You don't approach a game with your tail between your legs. 4) The offensive line: Seeking progress from an offensive line in flux due to both injuries and the questions at guard. Tonight guard Dallas Thomas likely will start at left tackle ... so be alert and nimble, Tannehill! 5) Position battles: In addition to the guard play, Walt Aikens is the heir to injured Louis Delmas' safety job. Is he up to the task? We may see tonight, as the Falcons' Matt Ryan will offer the best passing attack Miami has yet faced. Kicker Caleb Sturgis also must button-down his role tonight or risk still losing it. Bonuses: Interesting piece on coach Joe Philbin this week on Sports Illustrated's Monday Morning Quarterback site; click here to read). Finally, pictured left, apropos of nothing, a prototype football helmet being tested as the wearer heaves himself into a wall, circa 1912. Evidently no concussion concerns back then.

WEIGHING THE FISH (130 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Eleven qualify for our latest ranking (we eliminated the departed Michael Morse but included Cole Gillespie even though he is one at-bat shy at 129). WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race -- a race Stanton led comfortably before his injury absence. The numbers below might not mean much by themselves, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's the WTF after 130 games (at 52-78):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @120

1  Dee Gordon                  430.9    1

2  Giancarlo Stanton     362.5    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   358.0   3

4  Martin Prado              308.1    6

5  Christian Yelich         286.3   4

6  Jacob Realmuto         286.1   5

7  Marcell Ozuna            264.2   8

8  Justin Bour                 260.6    7

9  Ichiro Suzuki              228.6   9

10  Derek Dietrich          195.1   10

11  Cole Gillespie            140.1   --

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 8, Gordon 4.

1aa1alamarmillerDOLPHINS' IN FANTASY RANKINGS: ESPN.com's official and final Top 300 fantasy rankings (click here for full list) includes 11 Dolphins, though none are pegged higher than what would be the third round in most drafts. The Fins listed, in order: 29th--RB Lamar Miller (pictured); 65th--WR Jarvis Landry; 87th--TE Jordan Cameron; 113th--WR DeVante Parker; 136th--RB Jay Ajayi; 142nd--Dolphins defense; 148th--QB Ryan Tannehill; 181st--RB Damien Williams; 191st--PK Caleb Sturgis; 197th--WR Kenny Stills; and 232nd--WR Greg Jennings. Quick thought: I think Tannehill, the 11th-ranked QB, could be somebody's draft steal. 

METEROLOGISTS SECRETLY DOWNTRODDEN AS SOUTH FLORIDA EVADES ERIKA'S CONE OF DOOM: Erika, the tropical storm, evidently not only won't become a hurricane but will be downgraded to a depression, or perhaps even a stiff breeze. This is good 1aa1acanestvfor South Florida, but bad of course for the people who sell plywood, ice, batteries and such. It's also bad for local TV meteorologists, who sell panic and at every opportunity foment an anxiety that leads to comically premature preparation. We'll probably get some rain and maybe some barely strong winds late Sunday into Monday. That's it. Am I making fun of hurricanes or the preparation for them. No! Certainly not on the 10-year anniversary of Katrina. Real hurricanes must be taken seriously. I am making fun of local TV weather people over-dramatizing every threat. I am picturing disappointed meteorologists downtrodden today, likely drinking heavily as they wistfully picture themselves beachside filming heroically in front of wind-whipped Stop signs.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 27, 2015

Who's the 2015 Athlete of the Year? 4 finalists. New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins optimism, dissing Larry Csonka, latest NFL playoff odds, Ashley Madison and ESPN, Greg's Lobos news & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 27. R.I.P. to the TV reporter and cameraman murdered yesterday in Virginia. So awful and senseless. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Prediction Machine's rosy Dolphins outlook, my fantasy draft annual poll, Schnellenberger sabotage continues, note to anti-government crowd & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

Optimism surrounding Dolphins is well-founded: That is the theme of today's latest column by me. A new computer projection by PredictionMachine.com has Miami with a better than 50 percent likelihood to win 13 of its 16 games, further augmenting a sense of confidence among fans. Click on Dolphins, Rising to read the column in full. PredictionMachine's Paul Bessire elaborated to us today in an email: "The Dolphins currently rank fifth in our Power Rankings and are favored in 13 of 16 games. That’s the good -– if not great -– news for Dolphins fans. The most reasonable expectation, though, is a nine-win season and a wild card [playoff] berth with a better than 50 percent chance to make the playoffs. Given that the Dolphins play at a fast pace, tend to make critical mistakes and have so many young or new pieces, they are one of the most volatile teams in the league."

1aa1ashoeFunny joke: A friend thought I'd enjoy this recent Shoe comic strip. He was right. First woman: "So, tell me about this Shoe fellow you're dating." Second woman: "Well, he's a journalist. He's been married five times. He smokes, he's cheap, he's selfish, he uses foul language, he drinks way too much, and I'm not sure he's faithful." First woman: "Oh, you poor dear. He's a journalist?!"

FRAMING THE RACE FOR 2015 AMERICAN ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Our friend Christine Brennan, the very good USA Today columnist, inspires this poll with her latest column framing the 2015 Athlete of the Year race. (Click here to read). Her four finalists are hard to argue, probably all deserving, and an 1aa1aathleteyearinteresting mix of two individual-sport stars, a team and a horse. American Pharoah ended thoroughbred racing's 37-year Triple Crown drought. Golfer Jordan Spieth, at 21 turning 22, won two major championships and nearly won the other two. The U.S. women's soccer team won its first World Cup title since 1999. And tennis star Serena Williams is going for her fifth consecutive major and the sport's first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years as the U.S. Open begins on Monday. Brennan writes, "If Serena wins the Open, becoming the first woman or man to win the Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988, she would be my choice as sportsperson of the year. She would not only have won all four majors in the same year, she also would have tied Graf for the most Grand Slam titles won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era, with 22." I tend to agree. But I'm curious what the rest of you think right now. This has been a year when no major team-sport star (such as NBA MVP Steph Curry) has risen to the level of extraordinary accomplishment that these four have: Serena, dominating. Spieth, the phenom with the breakout year. Pharoah and U.S. women's soccer, both making history. Now pick just one. Hey, nobody said this was easy.

DEAR HBO AND BALLERS: SPELL-CHECK, PLEASE?: I watch HBO's Ballers, the Dwayne Johnson/football
vehicle that just ended its first season and got renewed, mainly because it is set in Miami and based 1aa1acsonka(without approval) on the Dolphins. There are cameos by guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Birdman Andersen, which is kind of neat. The acting is sort of lame and the writing cliched; I only watch because of the local angle. Anyway, Dolphins Hall of Famer Larry Csonka -- that's C-S-O-N-K-A -- has a recurring minor role as a gruff Dolphins assistant coach. Pictured right is a screen grab of the closing credits from the season finale. Dear HBO: How do you misspell the last name of a famous football player who stars in your own bleepin' show!? Jesus.

LATEST DOLPHINS/NFL PLAYOFF ODDS: Updated today, courtesy Bovada, with New England currently off-the-board due to Tom Brady suspension flux. Top five most likely playoff teams overall are Seahawks (1-8), Colts (1-6), Packers (2-11), Broncos (1-3) and Cowboys (4-7), though Pats would be in that group. AFC odds (including the Pats) find Miami tied for seventh at 6-5 in jockeying for six spots, meaning odds see Fins just past the far edge of being playoff-caliber. AFC East odds are Pats (off), Dolphins (6-5), Bills (7-4) and Jets (7-2).

ON ESPN AND THE HACK OF ASHLEY MADISON: The lovable muckrakers over at Deadspin report today that, of the millions of Ashley Madison users exposed when the infidelity website was hacked, at least 39
1aa1aashleymaccounts were registered with ESPN email addresses. (Click here for the story). No names are named. Yet. Deadspin reports around 100 ESPN employees may be involved (about 20 percent of them women) based on former or current ESPN-related IP addresses. Look for ESPN folks on the air today who seem to be unusually nervous, distracted or sweating profusely. Although in fairness Chris Berman tends to sweat profusely at all times, so that may not mean anything or be incriminating. I rule out LeBatard; he isn't married. In all seriousness, which is dumber: Needing the help of a website to cheat on your spouse? Doing it with a work email? Or doing it with a work email if you happen to be on TV and sort of famous? This story needs one of those triangular yellow road signs: EMBARRASSING FALLOUT AHEAD.

1aa1alobosGREG'S LOBOS -- THAT'S ME! -- WINS FANTASY POLL: I swear it wasn't rigged. It was a blind poll. You voted not knowing who ran what team; you voted simply based on each team's top four draft picks in our 10-team friends 'n family league. The results, with each team's top pick, and the owner:

 

12.2%:
 
5.1%: Team 1 ( 
 
 
2.4%: Team 5 (Antonio Brown). My older son, Christopher, who some may know as "Fat Chris" from the LeBatard Show even though he isn't fat.
 
1.7%: 
 
1.7%: 
 
1.0%: 

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 16, 2015

Shula at 85: An unabashed appreciation of Miami's great, iconic coach; plus Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with Dolphins, Marlins, Canes, Heat, Jason Day, Ichiro, tennis; also fashionista Serena, Christmas verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, AUGUST 17. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with UM's Al Golden being ranked No. 1 in preseason list of college football's "hottest coaching seats." 2) Click on A Lot To Like for my previous column off the Dolphins preseason opener. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins drop preseason opener at Chicago, NBA keeps ruining Christmas, tennis sex scandal, Colin Cowherd beer & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

"Marcell Ozuna, back with the Marlins, said of his demotion to Triple A, 'It's like a jail.' Dude. Please. Try to fake a little self-awareness, would you?" --Greg Cote

CELEBRATING DON SHULA: As the Miami Dolphins turn 50 this season, the franchise's great coach and icon is a regal 85 now, 20 years off the sideline and out of the game but still sharp and going strong in retirement. Recently
1aa1adoshulaI sat down with Shula for an extensive interview at his home, in a den filled with his career's memorabilia. Journalists are supposed to be neutral, dispassionate. I don't claim or attempt such things when it comes to Shula. I admire the man. What he accomplished, and who he is. I have an in-depth column on Shula in today's Miami Herald on page 1A, a column that is not yet available online but will be starting Tuesday. For now, click on DON SHULA for a video from our retrospective interview; Shula is pictured from during that conversation. Shula talks about perfection, his career, his regrets and more. He even talks about the man who replaced him, the coach he called "Jimmy Who." (Thanks to our online and video folks for their excellent work. My only quibble: the extreme closeups of me. Gawd! I am un-telegenic and old. I demand a far angle and a soft focus! Anyway...) My Shula video and accompanying column begin the rollout of the Herald's ongoing coverage commemorating the Dolphins' upcoming Golden Anniversary season. The package will also include videos of my extensive interviews with defensive legends Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor. Click here for a brief sneak preview of the Thomas video.

HOT BUTTON (AUG. 16): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Starters impressive despite loss in exhibition opener: As Dolphins prepare for their annual kickoff luncheon tomorrow/Tuesday, the limitlessness of possibilities was redefined in the preseason opener as Dolfans discovered it was possible to be generally pleased after a game in which Miami lost at Chicago 27-10 while committing 12 penalties and four turnovers. The starters looked great. For mid-August, that’s enough.

2. MARLINS: Lost year as Fernandez, Yelich join Stanton on disabled list: Fish have won four of past five after winning in St. Louis last night but the season was beyond hope, and now Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich have joined Giancarlo Stanton on the DL. Interim manager Dan Jennings said of this season, “Thank God there’s no Prohibition in baseball.” It’s disappointed fans who could use a drink.

3. HURRICANES: Countdown 19 days as UM prepares for opener: Canes held their first scrimmage, but it was closed to fans and media. (If a scrimmage falls on campus but nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?) Miami’s Sept. 5 opener against Bethune-Cookman had better require little more exertion than that intrasquad scrimmage, or the Canes could be in trouble.

4. HEAT: NBA schedule out; Miami hosts Christmas game again: The Heat opens play at home Oct. 28 in Chris Bosh’s comeback, and visits LeBron James in Cleveland two days later. Also notable: A Christmas home game against New Orleans. Bah humbug. NBA should take that sacred holiday off but instead will play a record five games. Jesus!

5. GOLF: Jason Day wins PGA Championship, year’s final major: Jason Day finally won a major by capturing the PGA Championship in Wisconsin, but, once again, Tiger Woods couldn’t find the map to Sunday, missing the cut for the fourth time in his past five majors. Remember when Tiger was thrilling to watch? Now it’s closer to sad.

6. AL GOLDEN: UM coach ranked No.1 on hot-seat list: Canes' Al Golden is a dubious No. 1 on ESPN.com’s preseason list of the 10 “hottest coaching seats” in college football. I don’t want to exaggerate Golden’s unpopularity with fans, though. He isn't Jeffrey Loria. Also, even his biggest critics surely like Golden more than, for example, that Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the lion. Probably.

7. NFL: Only the Jets! Sucker-punch breaks Geno Smith's jaw: Embattled Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith is sidelined half the season with a broken jaw after being punched by teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali, who immediately was cut. Worst part? Jets fans weren’t sure whether to call Smith’s injury good news or bad.

8. TOM BRADY: Federal suit over Deflate gate still unsettled: The Patriots QB's federal court case against the NFL over his four-game Deflategate suspension has yet to settle. Meanwhile the courtroom sketch artist was ridiculed nationally for her rendition of Brady that was unflattering. Check that, the artist was ridiculed in New England, but hailed as a modern-day da Vinci elsewhere.

9. ICHIRO: No. No, he did not surpass Ty Cobb in career hits!: It keeps getting reported that the Marlins' Ichiro Suzuki just surpassed Ty Cobb's 4,189 hits for second on the all-time list. But that's only if you count his hits in Japan, which MLB does not and never has. In fact, Ichiro still trails Cobb by more than 1,200 hits.

10. TENNIS: Love triangle on tour?: Tennis pro Nick Krygios was fined $10,000 by the ATP tour for telling opponent Stan Wawrinka during a match that another player was, um, ah, engaged in carnal knowledge with Wawrinka’s girlfriend, who also is a touring pro. Well, there goes that Kyrgios-Wawrinka doubles partnership!

Missing the HB10 cut: A Milwaukee Brewers minor-leaguer has revealed he is gay. Um, when do we get to stop caring about stuff like that? ... Bills sign Jets sucker-puncher. ... Dolphins owner Stephen Ross invests in Drone Racing League. Will play-calls now get from sideline to huddle via drone? ... American teen Katie Ledecky wins five golds at world swimming championship in Russia. ... Tigers' Al Avila (from Hialeah High) becomes MLB’s first Cuban-born general manager. ... Floyd Mayweather Jr. announces his final fight before retiring would be Sept. 12, with no date set yet for his final fight after that one. ... Adidas is paying James Harden $200 million to wear its sneakers. No, seriously. ... FIFA said it has opened an internal investigation into corruption. That’s like the Mafia investigating organized crime. ... Little League World Series begins this week despite no Mo'ne Davis. ... Finally, the national gymnastics championships end today in Indiana, where Miami’s Danell Leyva hoped to perform a parallel bars maneuver so groundbreaking that, if successful, it would be named after him. I can relate. In sports writing, someone who writes  a slapdash column is said to have "nailed a Cote."

1aa1aserenamagSERENA, FASHIONISTA: We've poked fun at Palm Beach tennis superstar Serena Williams over the years. She
1aa1aserenamag2can come off as arrogant, a real diva. She has indulged various side interests that have seemed to diminish her attention to tennis at times. Respect, though, must be given. She is chasing history, the career record for most majors won. She may be the greatest women's player ever. Yet steadfastly she maintains her outside interests, such as clothes design. Pictured, Serena adorns the cover of the new New York magazine fashion issue, once again living -- and winning -- by her own rules.

Poll result: Split opinions on NBA, Heat playing Christmas Day: In the previous blogpost we asked what you thought of the Heat hosting a Christmas game, and it was 46.9 percent opposed, 45.7% in favor and 7.4% undecided.

Check back often because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

August 14, 2015

PS1: @Chicago 27, Dolphins 10 (Final): Forget the score. Dolfans should be more encouraged than discouraged. My postgame thoughts; plus why is NBA ruining Christmas? New poll. Vote!; also Fins playoff likelihood, tennis sex scandal & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1acolinbeer1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 14. Defrocked ESPN voice Colin Cowherd now has his own beer. Oh Lord how I wish I were kidding. Click on image at left to see enlarged version. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jam-packed! Mayweather-Rousey poll, complete Heat schedule, Dolphins in fantasy, Marlins' next manager, latest 'Back In My Day,' Drone Racing League, Joe Goodman, MNF broadcasters list & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and now Periscope, too.

1aa1abuffettHey, waaaiiit a minute, Jimmy!: I thought Jimmy Buffett was our guy!? Mr. Key West, Mr. Landshark, a Heat fan, Fins Up, all that. Wasn't Buffett assumed to be a Dolphins fan too? Well, hmm. Here's Jimmy pictured today attending a Saints practice, standing beside former Dolphins and now Saints PR guy Fitz Ollison. Say it ain't so, Jim!

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: Our DSM postgame blog polls will be back for another season this year -- but not tonight or during the preseason. They begin with the regular season. 

Fins playoff shot guesstimated at 44%: Numberfire.com, an analytics site, has its AFC East preview out today (read here) and predicts Miami for second in the division behind the Patriots. It puts Dolphins' playoff shot at 44.2 percent, with a 24.4% shot to be division champ and a wins over/under of 8.4. 

THE DAY OF THE DOLPHINS: FOOTBALL'S BACK!: Final thoughts--This may strike some as strange after a 27-10 loss pockmarked by four turnovers, but I'd think Dolphins fans ought not be real disappointed right now. When it was Ryan Tannehill out there, and Ndamukong Suh on the other side -- when it was the Miami starters vs. Chicago's starters -- Miami looked very good. It was the backups and scrubs who squandered the early lead and the win. That suggests Miami's depth may be suspect. But if you judge this game, as you should, by how Miami looked at its best, the night was more encouraging than discouraging. ..... 4Q--Freeman INT is Miami's fourth turnover. Ugh. ... Dolphins scrubs give up 54Y scoring run for 27-10 score. MIA has done nothing since the starters went out. ... Josh Freeman in at QB for Miami. ... Oy! Bethel-Thompson (soon to be a former Dolphin) is intercepted again, leads to  Bears FG and 20-10 score. ..... 3Q--Bethel-Thompson intercepted to put Dolphins lead in peril. Sure enough, CHI coverts for TD run and two-point conversion for 17-10 lead in quarter's last seconds. MIA safety Cedric Thompson had chance to be a hero on 4th-down scoring run but was not. ... Pandas within 10-9 as Fins D stiffens in the red zone. ... A man named "Aultman" just caught a pass for Miami. Preseason opener! ... Penalties, now a lost fumble. Certainly not a flawless game by Fins. ..... 2Q--MIA 10-3 on Sturgis 31Y FG after squandered drive into red zone. ... You know it's a preseason opener when you look up and notice your QB is a person named "McLeod Bethel-Thompson." He replaced Matt Moore, who replaced Tanny. ... True to expectations, most defensive starters now out, too. ..... 1Q--Defense looking stout, too, but what a dropoff in run-D when Ndamukong Suh isn't in. ... Tannehill, many other offense starters out after only one series. He was 6-for-7. Like a razor, he was. ... MIA 7-0: Bottle that drive. Save it for September. Tannehill sharp enough to overcome two holding penalties. ..... Original post: The Day of the Dolphin was a not-very-good 1973 sci-fi thriller starring George C. Scott. This is the Day of the Dolphins -- the preseason opener tonight at 1aa1adayof 1aa1adayof2Chicago that tangibly kicks off the franchise's 50th anniversary season. Will the Dolphins be very good as the buzz suggests? Let the hints begin, although whether Miami wins or loses tonight won't be much of a barometer. Exhibition openers rarely are, as I detail in today's latest column. Click on Results Don't Matter (Yet) For Dolphins, But Football's Back to read in full. Look for Dolphins starters to play only the first quarter, if that. I'd expect Ryan Tannehill goes one series, maybe two. Trained eyes will be on the guard play as a handful of contenders try to determine if Miami has two suitable starters to flank center Mike Pouncey. It also will be interesting to see Ndamukong Suh, in a new uniform, facing his longtime former division rivals, albeit briefly. Coach Joe Philbin will devote the first two exhibitions to settling his depth chart and roster, with an eye on making the third exhibition the first real we-wanna-win dress rehearsal.

JESUS! NBA'S CHRISTMAS DAY OBSESSION AGAIN RUINS MIAMI'S HOLIDAY: In the previous blogpost we 1aa1achristmasnbalisted the entire 2015-16 Heat regular-season schedule released yesterday. It includes a Heat home game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans on Christmas Day -- a noon tipoff that will be the first of a record five NBA games played on the holiday. I can tell you from past conversations that neither NBA players nor TV announcers like working on Christmas. I know I don't. For many of us, whether it's for religious or family reasons, Christmas is a day to be home, and certainly not a day to work. Yet the NBA embraces Christmas as its own stage to a degree beyond other leagues. I wonder whether the NBA's leadership being Jewish -- David Stern to Adam Silver -- weighs anything in this league treating Christmas not as an occasion to be off but as just another play day? Hey, I'm just asking!

TENNIS SEX SCANDAL!: So Stan Wawrinka, the reigning French Open champion and world's No. 5- 1aa1adonnavranked man, is playing Nick Kyrgios in the Montreal Masters last night in a heated match and, during a walk past each between sets, an open on-court mic picks up Kyrgios saying to Wawrinka, "Kokkinakis banged your girlfriend. Sorry to tell you that, mate." The reference was to a fellow ATP player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and to Wawrinka's girlfriend, WTA player Donna Vekic, 19. Kyrgios did not deny what was heard, explaining Wawrinka had been getting "lippy." Wawrinka has responded angrily on Twitter, calling for the tour to discipline Kyrgios. Vekic is pictured. She may or may not be gesturing that she has two lovers, one for each hand. Ouch. Too soon?

Updated World Series odds: Out today via Bovada, Toronto Blue Jays are the new World Series favorites at 4-1. Others sub 10-1 are Royals at 5-1, Dodgers and Cardinals both 8-1 and Mets -- the Mets! -- at 9-1. Your Marlins are a tidy bargain at 2,000-to-1.

Poll result: Rousey beats Mayweather in no-holds-barred fight: Very few of our poll results surprise me, but this one sort of did. We asked who'd win in a no-holds-barred, MMA-style fight, and it was Ronda Rousey over Floyd Mayweather Jr., 56.1 percent to 43.9. 

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July 12, 2015

Good news, bad news on Dolphins QB Tannehill; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): MLB screws Marlins on ASG, Riley's big summer, Serena, parade, fireworks, The Donald, Dolfans slammed; also, verdicts on Trump, Jason Pierre-Paul & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JULY 13. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) #BoycottArianaGrande. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jason Pierre-Paul/privacy and Donald Trump/golf polls, Heat sign Stoudemire, Dolphins fans low-rated, Jose stays perfect, Luol Deng's special video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

"LeBron James, featured in the new movie, Trainwreck, hosted a private VIP screening. Based on the title, I assume it's about the Cavaliers’ collapse in the recent NBA Finals?" --Greg Cote

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS ON TANNEHILL IN AFC EAST CONTEXT: Peter King's respected Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQB) website has a new ranking of all 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks by writer Andy 1aa1adolqbBenoit and it offers good news and bad news for Miami's Ryan Tannehill 1aa1adol15(pictured) both overall and also in the context of the AFC East. His ranking of No. 15 could be seen as good or bad. That's mid-pack overall, but the synopsis of Tannehill reads, "An underappreciated athlete and good pure passer who has progressed every year in his career." He's clearly on the ascent, and outranks the likes of Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Jay Cutler. More good news: Two division-rival starters are at dregs-level: Jets' Geno Smith at 27th and Bills' Matt Cassel at a dead-last 32nd. The bad news? Guess who's No. 1? Good guess. Patriots' Tom Brady. Click here for the full rankings.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead: 

1aa1ahotbutton1. BASEBALL: All-Star Game, Home Run Derby on deck: The 86th All-Star Game is Tuesday in Cincinnati, with no Marlins playing thanks to Giancarlo Stanton and now Dee Gordon both being injured. The Home Run Derby is tonight, though diminished without Stanton and Bryce Harper. The danger in Cincy hosting? Pete Rose runs onto field past security and demands an at-bat.

2. HEAT: Miami adds Stoudemire and Green, shines in summer ball: Another strong week for the Heat as Miami signed veteran forward/center Amar’e Stoudemire and three-point specialist Gerald Green (both cheap) and the Heat’s youth squad finished 5-0 in the Orlando Summer League. Pat Riley hasn’t had a better summer since 2010.

3. MARLINS: Gordon injured, Fish fuming over ASG replacement snub: Jose Fernandez improved to 2-0 since his return from Tommy John surgery (and 14-0 all-time at home) but team slogged into All-Star break with third-worst record in MLB despite two nice wins in a row. Now there is speculation Mat Latos, Dan Haren and others may be traded before July 31 deadline. Oh, and Dee Gordon's injury leaves Miami 0-for-2 on All-Stars who'll actually play, after Gordon was replaced by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, not Marlins' Adeiny Hechavarria. That's a bit too literal on "adding insult to injury."

4. TENNIS: Serena wins fourth straight major, Djokovic tops Wimbledon men: Wimbledon wrapped yesterday with Novak Djokovic beating Roger Federer in a heavyweight men's final. Saturday, Serena Williams completed the “Serena Slam” by winning her fourth major in a row. She beat Garbine Muguruza, who evidently is a rising young Venezuelan even though Greg Cote had never heard of her.

5. SOCCER: America still celebrating women’s World Cup win: The symbolic culmination of last week’s third U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship and first since 1999 came Friday with a ticker-tape parade along New York’s “Canyon of Heroes.” There are so many great players on that champions’ roster. Hey, maybe they could loan a few to the U.S. men’s team!

6. FIREWORKS: Two NFL players lose fingers in mishaps: Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (one) and Bucs CB C.J. Wilson (two) lost fingers in Fourth of July fireworks mishaps. It's relentless. NFL players -- along with FSU players and athletes in general -- keep providing lessons in how not to behave.

7. DONALD TRUMP: PGA Tour mulling Trump controversy: The PGA Tour and other golf entities weigh whether to divest from Trump-owned courses (such as Doral) over his comments disparaging Mexican immigrants. One possible solution: Trump avoids that by buying the entire sport of golf.
 
8. DOLPHINS: Miami fans slammed in new study: 

A study by Atlanta’s Emory University ranked Dolphins fans 32nd — dead last in the NFL — in a “fan-equity ranking” measuring willingness to financially support their team. Um, you don't need a college degree (or study) to know that 30 years between Super Bowl appearances can do that.

 

 

9. UM FOOTBALL: Adidas plans uniform unveiling: A

didas plans a lavish VIP party this coming Saturday at trendy Club Liv to unveil the Hurricanes’ new football uniforms. I wish I were kidding. Remember when you didn’t know — or care — who made your team’s uniforms? And that when you said your team “looked good” you meant winning, not sartorial splendor?
 
10. GOLF: British Open to miss its defending champion: It starts in three 

days at St. Andrews in Scotland, but without defending champ Rory McIlroy, who hurt his ankle playing pickup soccer. Meanwhile Tiger Woods tries (again) for his first major win since 2008. Headline: 'Old Tiger seeks old form on The Old Course.'

 

Missing the HB10 cut: DeAndre Jordan jilts Mavericks, stays with Clippers. Carnival's Cuba cruises and impact on Micky Arison. Michael Irvin Jr. commits to Canes. NHL Panthers seeks arena lease relief from Broward County. ESPN won't re-sign Keith Olbermann. U.S. men's soccer in Gold Cup. (Who knew we had a men's team, too!?) And the Tour de France enters its final week. First cyclist to pass both the finish line and a doping test wins.

Poll result: Mixed feelings but mostly support for Trump: We asked if the PGA Tour should disassociate itself from Donald Trump-owned courses because of his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants and it was 56.2 percent no and 41.4% yes, with 2.4% undecided.

Poll result: Blame targets hospital in Jason Pierre-Paul matter: We asked who was to blame for the Giants defensive end's medical records being leaked after his fireworks accident and 54.4 percent blamed both Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital (for leaking) and ESPN's Adam Schefter (for disseminating). But 28.8% mostly blamed Jackson vs. only 8.9% who mostly blamed Schefter. The other 8.0% blamed no one.

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July 08, 2015

Carnival cruises to Cuba and impact on Heat owner Micky Arison: New poll. Vote now!; plus ESPN 'Body' issue poll, Fins seat sale, Pat Riley's motivation, new Dolphins 'n Canes betting odds, latest 'Weighing The Fish' & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 8. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): U.S. women reign, ESPN's 'Body,' Marlins All-Stars, LeBatard on 'Ballers,' Hot Button Top 10, Dwyane vs. Jose verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too (with a new 'Scope vid from yesterday's radio show).

Fins seat auction is today: Dolphins today are offering limited number of assembled seats and seatbacks for purchase. Seats were removed during stadium reconstruction. Proceeds from auction will benefit Miami Dolphins Foundation. Single and double seats are available; visit Dolphins.com/seatback to bid or for more info. Seats will be sold to season-ticket holders first (limit two per account) beginning at 11 a.m., then to others starting at 2 p.m., subject to availability.

An ode to Serena Williams: U.S. women's soccer flares across the sky as newly minted champions and deserves the applause, but look to the very pinnacle of American women's sports and who you see is Serena Williams. Click on Miss America for my latest column.

HOW DO HEAT FANS FEEL ABOUT CARNIVAL CRUISING TO CUBA?: Three facts, and how they might collide: Fact 1--Carnival Cruise Lines has won U.S. government approval to begin excursions to Cuba, as 1aa1aarisondetailed in this Miami Herald story. Fact 2--Doral-based Carnival Corporation is chaired by and a huge part of Micky Arison's $7.1 billion net worth. Fact 3--Arison (pictured aboard one of his ships) also owns the Miami Heat, many of whose fans are Cubans who do not approve of the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations because of their anti-Castro feelings. So, the question: Should the Heat owner's primary enterprise doing business with Cuba have a negative impact on how fans view him as a basketball team owner? I say no. I happen to support better relations with Cuba, and cruise traffic there was an inevitability, so Arison is doing smart business. Nor do I believe that all Cubans in South Florida might object; though some surely do. Let's get a rough idea how that breaks down with this pulse-read. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

NARCISSISM ON STEROIDS: ESPN'S ANNUAL 'BODY' ISSUE: Athletes love their bodies because their bodies are what make them rich and famous. Unless they are blowing up their hand misusing fireworks on the Fourth of July, athletes are famous for proudly taking care of their bods. Get all that. What I 1aa1awawrinka 1aa1acoughlindon't get is the comically outsized narcissism reflected in ESPN The Magazine's 'Body' issue, the seventh annual of which is out this week. Like, famous athletes don't get enough figurative exposure so they need the literal kind, too? Like, Bryce Harper doesn't have time to enter the Home Run Derby but he has time to get nekkid for ESPN? It's funny how the line has blurred. A top female athlete posing in Playboy would be lambasted for exploiting her sexuality and setting a bad example for young girls. But that same athlete going au naturale for ESPN is celebrated for being proud of her body. (Pictured left: Tennis player Stan Wawrinka. At right: Swimmer Natalie Coughlin). It's funny to me how ESPN fires a preemptive strike against any criticism that they are promoting only the perfect image of perfect bodies. They do this with the annual token inclusion of imperfect bodies. This year that includes three Colts linemen and a heavy female Olympian. Dear Athletes: Being proud of your bodies fully clothed would be just fine. A little modesty would be something to consider. But I may be wrong. Take a dip in our poll and share your overall view of ESPN's annual 'Body' issue.

RILEY'S REVENGE? HEAT PREZ IS COMING AFTER LEBRON: Last time it was to sign him. This time it's to 1aa1abig2beat him. That's a theory ESPN's Stephen A. Smith espoused on WQAM's Freeman & Fox Show, and it makes some sense. (Riley and LeBron are pictured in happier days). What follows is condensed, because Stephen A. is monumentally verbose: "Pat Riley I believe is coming for LeBron James. I believe Riley would have retired at the end of this [past] season had it not been for LeBron deciding to leave Miami. I think that has lit a fire under Riley we haven’t seen in some time. I think he is hell-bent on returning Miami to its glory and showing LeBron that [leaving was] not the way to go. I think Riley is going to do everything [he can to show] that LeBron made a mistake leaving the Heat. I think that’s a huge motivation." It is. That's why I wrote recently that getting to the Eastern Conference finals and beating Cleveland would be tantamount to an NBA Finals for Miami and almost parade-worthy for Riley and the Heat.

WEIGHING THE FISH (80 GAMES): We throw an occasional bell 'n whistle into the blog, and this year 1aa1afishweighwe debuted a new Miami Marlins feature. "Weighing The Fish" -- WTF! -- is a once-every-10-games (or so) cumulative ranking of every Marlins batter who is averaging at least one at-bat per game. Ten qualify for our latest ranking. WTF factors six offensive categories, serving as an ongoing de facto team MVP race. The numbers might not mean much, but, relative to each other, it gives an idea who is having the best overall season or is hot/cold. Here's WTF after 80 games (actually 83 at 35-48; oops again):

Rank Player                   WTF#  @70

1  Giancarlo Stanton      362.5    1

2  Dee Gordon                309.1    2

3  Adeiny Hechevarria   251.0   3

4  Marcell Ozuna            215.6   4

5  Martin Prado              201.5   5

6  Christian Yelich        194.3   7

7  Jacob Realmuto         178.5    6

8  Justin Bour                 165.9   9

9  Ichiro Suzuki              129.9   8

10  Michael Morse           91.6   10

Note: Season WTFs leader-count is now Stanton 5, Gordon 2.

UPDATED DOLPHINS, HURRICANES BETTING ODDS; KAAYA HONORED: From Bovada, the Packers 1aa1abkaayaare your new Super Bowl favorite at 6-1 odds, with Seahawks displaced to 13-2, followed by Colts 8-1 and Patriots 9-1. Dolphins sit at 33-1, tied for 12th. In college football, latest win over/unders have the Hurricanes at only 6, which I'd call surprisingly low and a bargain play at 'over'. (One reason I think that: QB Brad Kaaya, pictured, who yesterday was named to  the preseason Maxwell Award watch-list). Other state win over/unders: FSU 9.5, Florida 7.5, UCF 7, FIU 5.5, FAU 5 and South Florida 4.

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July 06, 2015

"Let's gooooo States!" The new Hot Button Top 10 (updated): U.S. wins World Cup, D.Wade, Jose, Serena, Fins, Chile, Aldridge, cycling, Cats and dogs; plus Marlins All-Stars, 'Body' nude, LeBatard & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1aflagme1) It is MONDAY, JULY 6. Hope y'all had a safe and fun Fourth of July and long holiday weekend. Happy 239th, America! Pictured is a photo I posted on Instagram of the flag in my yard as fireworks boomed over my neighborhood. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dwyane vs. Jose poll, Confederate fag result & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

Random Evidence: The Sunday notes column: Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column package.

"Let's gooooo States!" U.S. clubbed Japan 5-2 last night in Canada to convincingly win the Women's World Cup -- USA's third championship and first since 1999. Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and the Americans were favored and delivered, and of course as a ("U-S-A!") journalist I was a perfectly ("U-S-A!") neutral observer. "Let's gooooo States!"

1aa1agymnastESPN 'Body' issue: It's out in the magazine and online, ESPN's annual gratuitous platform allowing naturally narcissistic athletes to be even more narcissistic by showing us that their wonderful athleticism is a tribute to their even more wonderful bodies. Pictured right: Gymnast Aly Raisman, until my editors tell me to take the pic down, which I'm sure they wouldn't since it's, like, you know, all over ESPN.

Marlins All-Stars: All-Star Game starters based on fan voting were announced on ESPN last night, and as expected the Marlins' Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton made it, Gordon leading NL second basemen in voting and Stanton (though he's injured and won't play) finishing second among NL outfielders. The Marlins previously had only two players voted to start the ASG: Gary Sheffield (3B, 1993) and Hanley Ramirez (SS, 2008-10). Reserves will be announced tonight.

LeBatard cameo on 'Ballers': Dan LeBatard had a small speaking role on HBO's Miami-based Ballers series last night, seen wearing a 'Miami' cap, smoking a cigar and asking Dwyane Johnson what his end-game was. I loved his appearance, mostly because now so I can make fun of him on the radio Tuesday.

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. SOCCER: U.S. beats Japan, wins Women’s World Cup: Four years ago Japan beat the United States on penalty kicks in the championship match. Last night, the U.S. sought its revenge and resoundingly got it with a 5-2 rout in a WWC final rematch in Canada -- led by Carli Lloyd's three goals. This is where I’d drop in a quick Pearl Harbor reference, but that might be seen as politically incorrect so I'd better not.

1aa1ahotbutton2. HEAT: Wade re-signs with Miami, but for only one year: Huge week for Heat with Luol Deng staying, Goran Dragic signing long-term, Michael Beasley cut, Justise Winslow starring as Heat summer-league team opened play, plus that pointless pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. But of course the biggest new was Dwyane Wade re-upping. Call  it drama, delayed. Won’t the Heat and Wade be doing this same contract dance a year from now? That’s what a one-year deal gives you. No complaint, though. A starting lineup of Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Deng, Dragic and Wade can win. (Had better, anyway!)

3. MARLINS: Fernandez makes winning return after year’s absence: It had been more than a year — 419 days — since Jose Fernandez last pitched before his triumphant comeback Thursday. He improved to 13-0 with a 1.23 ERA at Marlins Park. Isn’t there some way to convince him that every time he pitches it’s a home game? Hypnosis, perhaps?

4. TENNIS: Serena survives scare as Wimbledon, faces sister next: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams seem championship-bound as Wimbledon begins its second week. Serena survived an upset bid by Heather Watson on Friday but must now face sister Venus today/Monday. Meanwhile this was the fourth Wimbledon in a row in which Rafael Nadal has been ousted early and ingloriously. Might be time to bring back the Capri pants.

5. DOLPHINS: Fins set training camp schedule: The Dolphins announced their historic 50th anniversary season would begin July 30 with the official start of preseason training camp, two weeks of practices segueing into the first exhibition game. Anniversaries less impressive than the 50th include this being the 42nd season since their last Super Bowl.

6. SOCCER: Chile upset winner in Copa America: Beating Argentina on penalty kicks to win Copa America marked Chile's biggest international title ever. Finally, a message to Brazil and Argentina that South America has other teams, too.

7. NBA: LaMarcus Aldridge to Spurs: San Antonio bags NBA's No. 1 actually-might-leave-his team free agent with power forward Aldridge leaving Portland. Heat's Pat Riley had flown to L.A. to meet with Aldridge, the Godfather's biggest wasted trip since that meeting with LeBron James a year ago.

8. CYCLING: Tour de France gets underway: Still going despite all of its various doping scandals, the latest Tour de Fraud France has begun. It must be so difficult for those cyclists to peddle up mountains while simultaneously providing urine samples.

9. PANTHERS: Cats stage four-day developmental camp: It was for recent draftees and other first-year players and included “team building” activities such as a beach outing and a Marlins game. Hmm. I’d rather my team win but not get along than lose and sing Kumbaya.

10. HOT DOGS: Annual gorging contest held on Coney Island: Answer: I would sooner watch vultures disemboweling maggot-covered carrion in a roadside ditch. Question: Did you watch Saturday’s annual hot dog-eating contest? Dear "competitive eating" fad: You were cute for a while. Go away, please.

Missing the HB10 cut: Golf, Doral standing behind Donald Trump, for now. Dan LeBatard cameo on HBO's Ballers tonight. Strikers lose to Boca Juniors. Brett Favre, 45, says he could still play. ESPN Body issue out today/Monday as our most narcissistic athletes celebrate themselves.

Poll result: Dwyane edges Jose for biggest story: Admittedly it was an apples-and-oranges question that (predictably) caused a smallish response, but we asked it anyway, and Dwyane Wade re-upping with the Heat was judged a bigger story than Jose Fernandez's comeback game by 59.2 percent to 40.8%.

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June 29, 2015

Wade opts out as expected, Winslow will be Heat's biggest draft star since 2003.The new column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 29. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton injured, Heat-draft-Justise Winslow poll, Dwyane Wade poll, Panthers draft & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram, Vine and now Periscope, too.

WADE OPTS OUT: Heat star Dwyane Wade will opt out of the final year of his Miami contract and become a free agent, ESPN reports this afternoon in this story. The move is fully expected and had been anticipated for weeks. It does not mean that Wade and the Heat won't continue as partners. It does mean that the sides must come to terms on a new contract of that is to happen, with negotiations set to begin on Wednesday.  

The new column: Setting the bar sky-high for Justise Winslow: Click on No Ceiling, No Doubts for my latest column, on Heat top draft pick Justise Winslow, online now and shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions. Elsewhere in Heatville, in addition to Wade opting out, Luol Deng announcing today he is opting-in and staying with Heat, perhaps a mild surprise because there were media reports suggesting otherwise. Also, team announcing it won't pick up option on Michael Beasley -- no surprise at all.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature (updated Monday) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. HEAT: Miami drafts Duke's Winslow, confronts Wade uncertainty: Heat hit big and fans were delighted Thursday night as team got Duke swingman Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft. I won big, too, after investing, on a hunch, in lame media references such a "Justise Is Served" and "League of Justise." Now Heat fans turn from delighted to wringing-hands anxious as Dwyane Wade prepares to opt out and become a free agent by tonight's midnight deadline, his future in Miami uncertain as contract negotiations begin Wednesday.

2. MARLINS: Stanton injured, Fernandez's return to mound on deck: MLB home-run leader Giancarlo Stanton is sidelined with a broken bone in his wrist, likely for four to six weeks, adding injury to the insult of a disappointing season for Miami that has included nine losses in past 11 games. Now speculation swirls that Miami may be sellers, not buyers, before the trade deadline. I’d say there isn't much more reason to watch, except at least Jose Fernandez’s long-awaited return from Tommy John surgery is set for this Thursday, here, vs. the Giants.

3. PANTHERS: Cats host NHL Draft, target goal-scoring help: Big week for the Panthers. Florida hosted the NHL Draft in Sunrise and took 6-4 winger Lawson Crouse 11th overall after earlier celebrating Aaron Ekblad’s NHL rookie of the year honor. But stop reading here if you believe in bad omens: After Florida hosted the draft for the first time in 2001, it missed the playoffs the next nine seasons.

4. SOCCER: U.S. faces Germany in Women's World Cup semfinals: The Americans beat China 1-0 on Friday to advance to the semifinals against Germany on Tuesday in a meeting of WWC co-favorites. American soccer fans would be thrilled (and surprised) if the U.S. men got this far, but it’s championship-or-bust for the women’s team.

5. TENNIS: As Wimbledon begins, can anybody stop Serena Williams?: The fortnight at Wimbledon starts today/Monday (cue strawberries-and-cream references) with Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams the favorites, as usual. Serena goes for her fourth consecutive major. Injury might stop Serena. Sometimes disinterest has. Other women players? Not so much.  

6. DOLPHINS: Fins win offseason, now off until training camp: In late July, the preseason will start with Dolphins training camp. For now, thanks to signing Ndamukong Suh and extending Ryan Tannehill’s contract, I declare Miami to be NFL Offseason Champion! No rings for that. No parade. The reward is the heavier expectations you lug into August.

7. DEFLATEGATE: NFL hears Tom Brady's appeal of suspension: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the Patriots quarterback for four games based on the result of an independent investigation paid for by Goodell's league. So who hears and will rule on Brady's appeal? Goodell! Hmm.

8. PETE ROSE: Latest revelation ends last Cooperstown hopes: Then again, is it really shocking that Pete Rose, who previously admitted to betting on his team as a manager, also is now determined to have bet on his team as a player, too? 

9. CONFEDERATE FLAG: When politics and social issues seep into sports: The growing move to abolish the Confederate flag in the wake of the South Carolina church shootings has seeped into sports, such as NASCAR chairman Brian France saying his sport will be "aggressive" in disassociating the symbol from its events. Aside to Confederate flag supporters: The Civil War was in the 1860s. Might be time to move on.

10. NUDE ATHLETES: Roster announced for ESPN mag's 'Body' issue: ESPN The Magazine announced the 24 sports figures who are to appear nude (though artfully covered) in its latest “Body” issue due out July 6, and they include Bryce Harper, Kevin Love and Dan LeBatard. OK, I made up that last one.

Missing the HB10 cut: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross teams with Qatari investors in bid to buy Formula One racing circuit. And Sean "Diddy" Combs arrested for allegedly swinging kettlebell during confrontation with a UCLA assistant coach who supposedly mistreated Combs’ son.

Poll result: Overwhelming thumbs-up for Heat drafting Justise Winslow: We asked your initial reaction to Miami selecting Duke's Justise Winslow 10th overall in the NBA Draft and 86.0 percent answered "very favorable" and another 8.7% "somewhat favorable. A negligible few answered either very (2.8%) or somewhat (2.5%) unfavorable. 

Poll result: Solid support for keeping Dwyane Wade: We asked you to describe how much you want the Heat to re-sign Dwyane Wade and more than 80 percent answered either "a lot" (48.3%) or "the max" (32.6%). Fewer than 20 percent answered either "a little" (11.1%) or "none" (8.0%).

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June 09, 2015

"Let's goooooooo States!" U.S. wins Women's World Cup opener; plus LeBron wins again, naughty Miami, Marlins' No. 1 draft pick, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 9. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with keeping Dwyane Wade in Miami. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron James hate-watch poll, UM to Omaha, women's World Cup, D.Wade's PR genius, Dolphins next-best verdict & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Miami second-naughtiest city: C'mon, Miami, we can do better than No. 2, can't we? A survey by a dating site called OnMutualTerms.com polled 3,528 men and women on the best American cities for "casual encounters" and the top five were Philadelphia, Miami, Seattle, New Orleans and Las Vegas. One question. Philadelphia!?

"U-S-A! U-S-A!" AMERICANS WIN WOMEN'S WORLD CUP OPENER: Update: U.S. looked very strong last evening in dispatching Australia 3-1 in its WWC opener in Canada, led by two goals from Megan Rapinoe (pictured). If Alex  Morgan attains full fitness during this run, I like Team USA's chances for its first World Cup triumph since 1999. Original post: I toss my journalistic neutrality theatrically out the window, like Dave 1aa1awwc 1aa1ameganrapLetterman used to toss watermelons off tall buildings, when it comes to stuff like the Olympics and World Cups. I root for the United States, openly, unabashedly and
with gusto. I become a homer. So I am excited the U.S. women's national soccer team debuting vs. Australia tonight in Winnipeg in the Women's World Cup being held in Canada. I'm excited for patriotic, dare say jingoistic reasons, and also because the women of Abby Wambach, Morgan and bad-girl Hope Solo represent the best America has to offer in female sports. Only Serena Williams, in tennis, is at that level where unrelenting excellence is expected. Much about women's sports doesn't seem to interest America much (women's golf and the WNBA come to mind), but top-level soccer does because it appeals to the frontrunner in us. These women are good. Men's soccer wants to be what the women are: Top-tier contenders on the world stage. This is the seventh WWC, and the U.S. never has finished worse than third place, including championships in 1991 and '99 and a heart-breaking runnerup finish four years ago. But Brandi Chastain & The Sports Bra were a long time ago now. We're due. (Yes, I said we). Most experts rate the U.S. and Germany. So I say it again: "Let's go-ooooooo States!"

MARLINS PICK A SURPRISE IN MLB DRAFT: It pales in national media attention and general interest compared to the NFL and even NBA 1aa1ajoshndrafts, but baseball's annual draft began last night, and the Marlins surprised most experts -- yes, there are baseball mock drafts -- by selecting Canadian prep first baseman Josh Naylor (pictured) in the first round, 12th overall. They list Naylor as 6-1 and 225 pounds. Hmm. This pic must have been taken after a particularly large meal as Naylor displays something of a Babe Ruth physique. As long as the Babe bat comes with it, we're OK. First South Florida player drafted was Miami Hurricanes lefty pitcher Andy Suarez in the second round, 61st overall, by the Nationals. UM and Jim Morris are both preparing for the start of the College World Series and also keeping an eye on the draft, especially where slugging third baseman David Thompson is selected today. He'll likely turn pro if drafted high enough to suit him, but otherwise may return for another season at UM. 

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday (then updated) feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. NBA: Battered, not beaten, Cavs win Game 3 behind LeBron, again: Already  missing Kevin Love, Cleveland couldn't beat Golden State in Game 1 despite 44 points from LeBron James. Now they'd be missing Kyrie Irving the rest of the series, too. Facing a crucial Game 2 back out west, James said, accurately: "People are writing us off." (Added a grinning, high-fiving Miami: "I know we are!') Well, get me rewrite. LeBron scores 39, has a triple-double and Cleveland ties series, then scores 40 in Game 3 last night to put Cavs up 2-1 in Cleveland.

2. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah runs into history books: Since Affirmed in 1978, 13 horses had won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness then failed to win the Belmont and finish the Triple Crown -- before American Pharoah finally ended that drought in triumph Saturday. (Quick aside: The word is actually spelled “pharaoh,” of course. Somebody buy that horse’s parents a dictionary!)

3. HURRICANES: Omaha! UM baseball back in College World Series: UM swept Virginia Commonwealth in the NCAA Super Regional here to qualify for the CWS for the first time since 2008, in search of Miami's fifth national title and first since '01. Only in college baseball do you hear anybody talk about being in Omaha, Nebraska as a life’s goal and highlight.

4. MARLINS: Fish show signs of life, take another series: Fish got spanbked last night in Toronto but before that in Colorado the Marlins won their third series in a row and fourth in the past five. Meanwhile Giancarlo Stanton is on a home-run tear (18) and Jose Fernandez is due back soon. I'd say things are looking up for replacement-manager Dan Jennings, but, with the Marlins, that’s usually a precursor to something exploding.

5. SOCCER: Europe final, Women’s World Cup come at right time: Lionel Messi's Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 Saturday in Europe’s Champions League final, same day the Women’s World Cup opened in Canada. (The U.S. began last night with a 3-1 win over Australia). Thank you, Europe and women, for helping remind us it's still the beautiful game despite the stink of corrupted FIFA and resigning-in-shame Sepp Blatter.

6. HOCKEY: Tampa Bay surges to lead in Stanley Cup Finals: While Panthers fans try to recall what the playoffs are, Tampa Bay beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 last night for a 2-1 series lead in the NHL finals. Meanwhile desperate Canada, which invented hockey but last celebrated a championship in 1993, has dispatched a covert team of special-ops Mounties to kidnap the Stanley Cup.

7. TENNIS: Williams wins French, but Djokovic upset loser: Heavily favored Serena Williams won the Franch Open women's title on Saturday, but No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Novak Djokovic was upset on Sunday by Stan Wawrinka for the men's title. Stan Wawrinka!? So much for me making fun of tennis' predictability by suggesting they saved time by engraving both trophies before tournament even started.

8. CAITLYN JENNER: Bruce's transformation sparks fascination: Former Olympic decathlon champion Bruce Jenner, a transgender, became Caitlyn Jenner, debuted herself on the cover of Vogue and set a record for becoming the quickest person ever to reach 1 million Twitter followers. And me, still stuck at 18,000 and change. Hmm. Something to think about...

9. DOLPHINS: For Fins, it was a bad week for feet: Haven't even reached preseason mini-camp yet, but last week top draft pick DeVante Parker underwent foot surgery (he should be ready for the season), and kicker Caleb Sturgis injured his foot while playing, of all things, kickball. A kicker being injured playing kickball is a little like the fire chief burning his hand on the stove.

10. HEAT: Wade attends graduation, gets TV gig: Never dull around Dwyane Wade. Last week he was invited and attended Western High's graduation ceremony, and then was part of ABC's Finals coverage on Sunday night. Meantime it remains up in air if Heat will pay Wade what he wants or see him test free agency. Maybe on TV Sunday Dwyane should have appeared disheveled in shockingly unfashionable, tattered clothes and held up a hand-drawn cardboard sign reading, 'Will Stay In Miami For Millions.'

Missing the cut: Tiger Woods shoots am 85, Monday's MLB draft, Al Golden's football camps, WNBA begins, A-Rod's cousin sentenced, Adeiny Hechavarria's shoe collection.

Poll result: Animus toward LeBron still percolating: No, Heat fans have not forgiven LeBron James the way he left Miami. We asked (you may still vote) and 63.3 percent are rooting against LeBron in the NBA Finals versus only 12.7% rooting for him. The other votes were split among 10.3% who are "sort of conflicted," 10.2% "not interested or watching" and 3.5% "pretending to not be interested."

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June 02, 2015

Bruce Jenner introduces Caitlyn. What do you think? New poll. Vote now!; plus Sepp Blatter resigns, UM reaches NCAA Super-Regional, Marlins demote Cishek, Hot Button Top 10 (updated) with NBA, Wade, pucks, tennis, horses & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today on radio (3-7 The Ticket Miami and 4-7 ESPN Radio) and on TV (4-7 Fusion). 

Sepp Blatters resigns: FIFA's president resigned today, four days after being reelected, in the midst of a bribery/corruption scandal. "I am the president of everyone," he had said. Now he is the president of nobody. Assumption: Blatter knows the hammer is coming, that he likely is to be imminently indicted in the scandal.

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 2. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Wade/Heat impasse with poll, UM-FIU feud, Dolphins uniform rank, FIFA verdict & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1acaitlynBRUCE JENNER IS NOW CAITLYN: Former Olympic decathlon champion and Wheaties box cover-boy Bruce Jenner completed his transgender transition to her this week, unveiling Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vogue. This is a lot for many of us to wrap our heads around. There was Chastity Bono (Sonny & Cher's daughter) becoming a man named Chaz. But clearly, Jenner is the most prominent American athlete and celebrity to transgender, at least by my eye. His periphery to the Kardashian clan and all of that attendant tabloid fame makes the story only bigger still. The attention to this is such that Jenner, on Monday, became the fastest person ever to go from no Twitter to 1 million-plus followers, surpassing Barack Obama's record. I'm curious what our readers think of Bruce becoming Caitlyn. I think it takes courage -- balls, as it were -- to do this so publicly, at this age. I say good for her. Now it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Canes 21, Columbia 3: Miami Hurricanes had lost at home to Columbia, 3-0, in the NCAA Regional, forcing a winner-take-all game between the teams last night. (Click on The Victim of Charming for my column from that game. I wrote that Columbia University, an Ivy League team, was a charming little story that threatened to crush mighty UM). Last night, though, order was restored, with Miami cruising into next week's super-regional, also here, a best 2-out-of-3 vs. Virginia Commonwealth.

"There are only five people still alive who were born in the 1800s. I wonder who the other four are?" --Greg Cote

HOT BUTTON (UPDATED): TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. FIFA: Scandalized soccer body re-elects Blatter: Federal corruption and bribery indictments rocked soccer's world governing body, yet unindicted president Sepp Blunder Blatter was re-elected the very same week despite being ultimately responsible for FIFA's messy shame. Imagine if Richard Nixon had won reelection at the height of Watergate? This was that.

2. MARLINS: Stanton blasts awaken struggling Fish: With Cubs in town for three, the Marlins are now 4-9 under new manager Dan Jennings and last night demoted struggling closer Steve Cishek to Double-A to work on his mechanics. But Miami had won two of three at the Mets -- one thanks to four home runs including a pair by Giancarlo Stanton. (Isn't it amazing how much better Jennings seems as a manager when his team hits four homers?)

3. NBA: It's a Golden State-Cleveland Finals, as expected: From the moment playoffs began it seemed inevitable LeBron James and league MVP Steph Curry would meet in the Finals. And they will. Eventually. Game 1 is Thursday night after a full week's delay since the conference finals. Don't worry, Miami. Before long it'll be time to boo and hate-watch LeBron again.

4. HEAT: Wade camp turns up contract heat on Heat: It was reported the Heat and Dwyane Wade are significantly apart on money, and that Wade may ponder leaving in free agency. In other words, Wade's people used the media to put a little public pressure on the team. Few believe Wade actually will leave, but it makes for a neat little diversion while waiting for the NBA Finals.   

5. COLLEGE BASEBALL: UM prevails in must-win, advances: The Miami Hurricanes were in the NCAA Regional championship game in their own ballpark last night and clobbered Columbia, 21-3. Miami is now two wins from advancing past the super-regional, also here, next weekend. Next time the Canes play a road game, it had better be in Omaha.

6. NHL: Stanley Cup Finals set after two Game 7 semis: Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning went the distance to play for Lord Stanley's chalice, beginning with Game 1 Wednesday night in Tampa. (Dear NBA: That's how to stage two exciting semis and get right to a Finals).

7. TENNIS: French Open passes its midpoint: It's now past midpoint of the red-clay major, and looking like No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic could unseat French champion Rafael Nadal on the men's side. In women's half, upset-loss by defending champ Maria Sharapova appears to clear path for top-seeded Serena Williams.

8. HORSE RACING: American Pharoah's moment nears: We are four days now from the 147th Belmont Stakes. More important, we are four days until American Pharoah tries to become first horse since 1978 to win a Triple Crown. This is the year it actually happens. No, seriously. I think. Maybe.

9. WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: U.S. among favorites: Women's soccer owns its quadrennial stage in the month-long World Cup starting this coming Saturday in Canada, with the United States and Germany generally considered co-favorites. FIFA may be shamed, but the game is still beautiful.

10. DOLPHINS: Fins continues offseason OTAs: Miami's second organized team activity (OTA) practice day was Monday. This is all very exciting, for those intensely interested in how their team practices more than three months from the start of the season. You know you're desperate for news when the big story is the kicker being injured and out for a few weeks.

Missing the cut: WNBA season opens. NBA Draft ahead. National Spelling Bee ends in a tie between Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar, who successfully spelled each other's name.

Poll result: Mixed feelings on Heat/Wade contract matter: We asked and 51.4 percent said Dwyane Wade at this point in his career should be satisfied with less money but another 41.8% said Heat should pay him the max for all he's done. The other 6.8% were undecided or unsure.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...